Embodiment effects in memory for facial identity and facial expression

Cognition and Emotion 22 (6):1198-1208 (2008)
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Abstract

Research suggests that states of the body, such as postures, facial expressions, and arm movements, play central roles in social information processing. This study investigated the effects of approach/avoidance movements on memory for facial information. Faces displaying a happy or a sad expression were presented and participants were induced to perform either an approach (arm flexion) or an avoidance (arm extension) movement. States of awareness associated with memory for facial identity and memory for facial expression were then assessed with the Remember/Know/Guess paradigm. The results showed that performing avoidance movements increased Know responses for the identity, and Know/Guess responses for the expression, of valence-compatible stimuli (i.e., sad faces as compared to happy faces), whereas this was not the case for approach movements. Based on these findings, it is suggested that approach/avoidance motor actions influence memory encoding by increasing the ease of processing for valence-compatible information.

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